India need to collect themselves. Their batting, bowling and fielding have gone haywire. After going down to Australia on Sunday, they also lost to England as the batsmen were done in by some smart bowling by Steven Finn and James Anderson on Tuesday. Batting first at the MCG, India did well to post a creditable 267/8 despite Mitchell Starc doing substantial damage to India’s batting. Starc was the star in Australia’s series opener against England on Friday and yet again he earned the player of the match award at Melbourne for bowling figures of 6/43. Though India lost, it was a close match that could have gone either way. But at the Gabba on Tuesday, the loss against England was not in the same category. The English bowling duo of James Anderson and Steven Finn ran through India’s innings in less than 40 overs and then the England batsmen reached a meager victory target of 154 in about 100 minutes and 27.3 overs to win by 9 wickets.
In Sunday’s match at the MCG, Mitchell Starc struck again in the opening over like he had done in the match against England at Sydney. But India managed to side step Starc’s charge and built the innings bit by bit. After long, Rohit Sharma scored an ODI hundred and he found good support from Suresh Raina. Unfortunately, other Indian batsmen failed to fire and although 267/8 was not the bad score, it could have been much bigger if India’s middle and lower order had clicked. Usually branded as a chaser, MS Dhoni elected to bat first after winning the toss but India lost Shikhar Dhawan in the first over and Ajinkya Rahane in the eighth. India were poorly placed, when Virat Kohli also fell in the 13th over with the score standing at 59/3. Kohli should have checked his instinct since the ball from James Faulkner was only just a shade short and Kohli didn’t have enough room to play. The result was a top edge to Bailey at mid-on. India’s best batting display came in the fourth wicket partnership between Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina and they looked like going places. But when the stand was worth 126, Raina literally threw his wicket. Raina played a needless pull shot to an off-side ball and Glenn Maxwell was not to drop a dolly at mid-on. Dhoni and Sharma added another 51 for the fourth wicket but the scoring rate dropped. India doesn’t have anyone as late plunderer in slog overs though Ravi Ashwin contributed with 14 runs off 20 balls and the innings came to end at 267/8.
For Australia 268 was not a big deal but by no means easy either. They have two explosive openers, who are capable of making a decisive difference. Aaron Finch and David Warner put on 51 in 9.1 overs before Warner skied a catch off Umesh Yadav for 24. However Finch and Watson added 64 for the second wicket before the entertaining Watson was bowled for a 39-ball 41 by Akshar Patel. Australians never faced the heat against India’s bowlers and with momentum in the field crumbling; they always looked like finishing the chase successfully. Steven Smith and Finch provided a push with a 101 third-wicket stand before three wickets fell quickly. But by that time, Australia had already reached within striking distance to the victory target. When Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled the 47th over, it was a wicket maiden and Australia still needed 20 off 18 balls. Akshar Patel yielded only 5 in the 48th but Faulkner’s finishing ability was on display as he and Brad Haddin took 16 off the 49th over from Bhuvi Kumar and Australia won the match by 4 wickets.
At the Gabba on Tuesday, however, Indians looked like trapped rabbits. Nine out of ten Indian wickets were shared between James Anderson and Steven Finn. Dhoni elected to bat once again after winning the toss only to see Shikhar Dhawan flop for the second match in a row. Rohit Sharma missed the match due to a sore hamstring and Ajinkya Rahane opened in his place. After the loss of Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu and Rahane steadied the innings with a 56-run second wicket stand. But after that Steven Finn announced his comeback with a ripping performance in the company of James Anderson. From 57/1, India were reduced to 67/5 in next to no time. Rahane was Finn’s first victim but his fall was more due to his own fault as he chose to drive skywards, when he should have checked himself. Kohli also fell to Finn shortly and he was followed by Raina and Rayudu. India could have been in a more dismal state but for a rescue act from MS Dhoni and Stuart Binny. These two held on grimly to fork out a 70-run sixth-wicket stand that took the score to 137. But once again indiscreet shots from India’s batsmen brought the downfall as last four wickets produced just 16 runs and India slumped to 153 all out in the 40th over.
Since India’s innings ended abruptly, England had to play out six overs before the regulation break. England’s only wicket fell during this period, when Moeen Ali fell to a slower ball from Binny. After the break, Ian Bell and James Taylor made merry against India’s toothless attack. The meager target prevented Bell from getting a century and he finished unbeaten on 88 off 91 balls. James Taylor also reached his third ODI fifty and the two finished the proceedings in the 28th over to make the defeat even more humiliating for India.
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